99.3% of San Francisco Teachers & Paras Vote YES in First of Two Strike Votes
As the school year begins in the San Francisco Unified School District today, the UESF Elections Committee reports that 99.29% of teachers who attended our General Membership Meeting last Thursday voted yes in the first of two strike votes, sending a strong message to the school district that we are serious about our demands at the bargaining table. According to results certified by the committee, of the 2,251 votes cast at the first strike vote meeting last Thursday at Washington High School, only sixteen people voted no.
UESF members stand firm in our contract demands for a 21% raise over three years because as rents and the cost of living in San Francisco continue to skyrocket, too many educators are getting forced out of the city, destabilizing school communities, and ultimately hurting the students.
The problem is particularly acute for paraprofessionals, who earn on average $25,000 a year despite working with the most vulnerable students, including children with special needs and low-income and immigrant families. UESF members are also standing firm on the need for greater support in the classroom, including additional staffing and preparation time for educators who work with special needs students and daily preparation time for elementary school teachers.
“We must do what we can to ensure educators have a fighting chance to live the communities we serve and the support we need to do our jobs,” said UESF President Dennis Kelly, who spoke at a press conference this morning at César Chávez Elementary School.
“Teachers are professionals: We want to provide the highest quality, most innovative instruction possible,” says Geri Almanza, a Bilingual Classroom teacher at César Chávez Elementary School, who also spoke today as her daughter looked on. “But to do that we need a fair wage, adequate preparation time, the opportunity to collaborate, and the smaller class sizes that give us a chance to provide individual attention to the children that need it most.”
Contract talks between the union and SFUSD are in mediation, with a gag order from the bargaining table. As part of our ongoing organizing efforts, UESF promises a robust community outreach campaign in the coming weeks, an effort we hope will help convince the district to come to a settlement at the bargaining table, short of a final strike vote.
“We are committed to getting a contract through mediation and are serious about seeing the process through,” adds Dennis Kelly. “We hope the district is equally serious about reaching a deal too.”
In order to go on strike, UESF would be required to hold a second strike vote, and the mediation process with the school district would have to complete it’s final stage of fact finding with no agreement in place.